Jamia blaze spreads, students of other universities across India hold protest

Congress leaders led by Priyanka Gandhi held a sit-in at India Gate in a show of solidarity with students from Jamia and several other universities who have been protesting against Citizenship Act

Jamia blaze spreads, students of other universities across India hold protest
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PTI

The police crackdown on students of Jamia Millia Islamia and boiling anger against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) fuelled fresh protests in the national capital as well as in various other universities across the country on Monday.

Thousands of students in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh took to the streets against the police excesses on Jamia and AMU students on Sunday evening and over the new legislation, claiming that it will weaken India's secular foundations and damage its social fabric.

In UP’s Mau, angry protesters torched several vehicles and clashed with the police who fired in the air to disperse the crowd.

Delhi

In Delhi, though there was no report of violence, the magnitude of protest grew manifold with students holding separate demonstrations at multiple places including India Gate, Jantar Mantar, Delhi University and Jamia.

"I don't feel safe in this country. I don't know where I will go. I don't know if tomorrow my friends will be Indians," said an agitated student.

Jamia campus had turned into a battlefield on Sunday as police barged into the campus, fired tear gas shells, ransacked university library and brutally beat up students and varsity staff.

The Congress and several opposition political parties condemned the police brutality against Jamia students and demanded a judicial inquiry into it.

Congress leaders led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held a sit-in at the India Gate, in a show of solidarity with the students from Jamia Millia Islamia and several other universities who have been protesting the contentious law.

After a two-hour silent protest from 4 pm, the Congress general secretary said the police crackdown on Jamia students was an attack on the soul of India.

"This country is for everyone, it is for all those students who were beaten up yesterday. Attack on students is an attack on the soul of India," she said.

She alleged that the citizenship amendment law was against India's Constitution and that it was brought to "destroy" the Constitution.

"Each and every Congress worker will fight against Modi government which is turning dictatorial," said Priyanka Gandhi, wondering why Prime Minister Narendra Modi is silent on assault on women, economy, joblessness and what happened yesterday against students.

The Congress general secretary was joined at the protest by leaders like Ahmed Patel, A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Randeep Singh Surjewala, besides hundreds of party workers.

At a press conference, Congress leaders Azad and Kapil Sibal, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D Raja, RJD's Manoj Jha, SP's Javed Ali Khan and Sharad Yadav condemned Sunday's police action against Jamia students.

Yechury demanded a probe by a Supreme Court judge in the incident. "Whoever gave the permission to allow the police to enter the Jamia campus should be brought to book and punished," he said.

As many as 50 detained students of Jamia were released even as the situation in the campus remained tense with scores of hostel students leaving for home. University Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar demanded a high-level inquiry into the police action on Sunday after a protest against the amended Citizenship Act turned violent.

Several students of Delhi University boycotted exams and held protest outside the Arts Faculty in North Campus even as a large number of police personnel were deployed by authorities to prevent any flare up.

Meanwhile, two students were admitted to Safdarjung Hospital with gun wounds, though the police have repeatedly denied opening fire on the students.

Uttar Pradesh

Protests against the CAA hit new areas in Uttar Pradesh on Monday with a mob setting vehicles ablaze in Mau and students hurling stones at policemen outside an Islamic seminary in the state capital.

Students at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) again held a protest. In Lucknow, there was a demonstration at a private university as well.

Aligarh University campus remained sealed amid patrolling by the police, a day after students clashed with them.

The first to join the movement against the violence in JMI were students from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) where there were clashes with the police late night on Sunday in which at least 60 students were injured.

AMU students started vacating their hostel rooms on Monday morning, as ordered by the authorities who had declared an early winter vacation. By the evening, a university official said, about 50 per cent of them had left the campus.

Protests erupted in other parts of Aligarh on Monday, with people in some areas demanding the release of those held after the previous day's clashes.

After the AMU violence in which about 70 people – students and policemen - were hurt, the police had arrested 21 youths. They were trying to determine how many among them were AMU students.

UP police chief O.P. Singh told PTI that internet services in Aligarh, Saharanpur and Meerut were suspended.

In Mau, a group of protesters torched some vehicles, prompting police to lob tear gas shells and fire in the air. The police said the mob was dispersed.

Students at the Islamic seminary Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow's Gudamba area also joined the protest in solidarity with the agitating AMU and Jamia Millia students.

As they tried to storm out of the seminary, a police force stopped them. Some of the students then hurled stones at policemen outside the gates. Nobody was reported hurt.

Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh & Gujarat

Students in parts of western and central India took to the streets on Monday to denounce police action on students of Delhi-based Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) protesting against the amended Citizenship Act which has ignited nationwide demonstrations.

A large numbers of students staged protests in different parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to condemn alleged police crackdown on agitating students of the JMI, a central university.

Students of Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), the University of Mumbai, Aurangabad's Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University and the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) staged protests in solidarity with their counterparts at the Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU.

A large group of people gathered outside the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) complex on Monday afternoon to deplore police action on JMI students, an official said. Around 50 of them were detained, he said.

Several faculty members, students of IIMA, CEPT University and other prominent institutions were also taken into custody for agitating on the footpath outside the prestigious business school.

Noted activist and classical dancer Mallika Sarabhai also took part in the demonstration, but she was not among those who were detained.

"We detained 50 protesters for not taking permission to assemble at the place, which is near a road. They were causing a traffic jam," Inspector H.M. Vyas of the Gujarat University police station said.

Hundreds of students from the TISS and the University of Mumbai held protests to denounce the BJP-led government over the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) and also the proposed National Register of Citizen (NRC).

They condemned the police action against the students of the JMI and the AMU.

TISS students gathered outside the college premises in the morning, carrying placards with anti-government slogans.

They shouted slogans condemning "police brutality and violence" against the JMI and AMU students.

Students assembled outside the TISS campus in suburban Deonar and demanded scrapping of the proposed NRC and the Citizenship Act, which was passed by Parliament last week and received presidential assent.

Members of around 18 student unions assembled outside the Kalina campus of the Mumbai university and held a demonstration.

In Aurangabad, members of several student outfits held a protest at the Ambedkar university campus.

A dozen students were detained at the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University in Aurangabad, central Maharashtra, and later released, police said.

In Madhya Pradesh, students of different colleges and groups of citizens staged a protest in Bhopal's Old City area to deplore the police crackdown on the JMI and AMU students.

At the site, the students waived placards with messages against the CAA and NRC and slogans asking for their withdrawal.

Police personnel were deployed at the spot to prevent any untoward incident.

On the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, another protest was held at the Iqbal Maidan in Bhopal against the police crackdown and to oppose the CAA and the NRC.

Sandip Barve of the Yuvak Kranti Dal said time has come for students from all universities to come together to protest against the BJP government.

Students said they are going to submit a memorandum, listing their demands, to the Pune district collector on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Kannan Gopinathan, a former IAS, too, posted a tweet asking people to join the protest.

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